Selective dining syndrome

Selective dining syndrome is a mental health disorder. A person suffers when there is no variety of foods in their regular diet. There is even rejection of the incorporation of new foods.

So that it can be diagnosed as a syndrome, the person must have eaten less than ten different foods total, throughout his diet, for at least two years.

If these criteria are met, then we face the pathology listed as such. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes it as a disease with its name in English: Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFIV).

Selective dining syndrome and its relationship with other disorders

Selective dining syndrome can be the gateway to other eating disorders such as:

  • Anorexy: weight loss caused by the patient, even having low body weight. It is generated by a excessive fear of weight gain.
  • Bulimia: is the succession of impulsive behaviors called Binge, consisting of large food intakes in a short time and then expel them through unnatural mechanisms such as provoked vomiting.
  • Orthorexia: is the obsession to consume only foods considered healthy by the patient, at an irrational level, worrying all the time for the menu.
  • Vigorexia: is the pathological obsession to maintain a muscular body. To achieve this, people who suffer from it practice too much and alter their diet extremely.

Who is affected by selective dining syndrome?

While the disorder can appear at any age of life and affect any human being, it has more susceptible populations. The two most affected groups are children and athletes. Let's look carefully at each one.

Children and selective dining syndrome

Selective dining syndrome is common during childhood. It has a prevalence of around 15% in children under 6 years.

Parents know that with children it becomes difficult to incorporate food. In the small ones a situation called food neophobia appears: the fear of trying new foods.

All this is combined: specific food selection, neophobia and lack of appetite. Generally between two and six years. And it is normal to be so. It is part of the growth and development process.

Adults should understand that this process is expected in preschool age. Anyway, when it becomes extreme, we can talk about selective dining syndrome in a child. The prevalence of the syndrome is estimated at around 15% among children under six years.

It is more frequent among women than values. Approximately every boy who suffers there are four girls with the syndrome.

The long-term problem is that it can be perpetuated in adulthood. Many times parents become persistent with incorporation counterproductively. Children enter a circle of anxiety that stimulates more pathology.

The presence of selective dining syndrome in childhood has been associated with certain personality characteristics that would persist in adulthood:

  • Social fear
  • Little adaptation to change
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Anxiety

You may be interested: Diets for children with obesity problems

Selective dining room syndrome in athletes

When those who do sports become professional or do it more and more frequently, they run the risk of becoming obsessed. That obsession can be evident in the preparation of the diet.

If the athlete only wants to increase their muscle volume or maximize performance at any cost, then they will alter the diet. In some cases the diet is altered conscientiously, as a preparation for a competition and nothing else. Other times there is supervision of a nutrition professional. But not always.

Diets based solely on protein are common among athletes. Or also the diet of chicken and tuna in the three daily meals with alternating pasta.

The low variety forces the body to work metabolically in atypical ways. That is harmful in the long term, being able to generate pathologies of the metabolic order that will become evident over the years.

The athlete's diet is at risk of becoming very selective. This, in turn, has medium and long-term health consequences.

The consequences

The lack of nutrients is serious for the human organism. Macronutrients and micronutrients are vital for body cells and tissues to work, develop, grow and repair.

Minimal deficiencies can affect the healing process, for example. In children who are growing There will not necessarily be a low weight, but there may be a short stature associated with the deficit.

The nervous system of children is particularly sensitive to the syndrome. There may be a substantial difference in IQ between children who suffer from the syndrome and those who do not. Of course, school performance is affected.

The social interference of the disorder is not minor either. People with selective dining syndrome avoid attending social events where there is food –Birthday, for example. They know they will be exposed in those situations. Therefore, they increasingly withdraw more and remain longer in solitude, hindering the possibilities of external help.

To continue reading: 8 consequences of bulimia: physical and psychological

The treatment

When the syndrome is installed, the good intention of the assistants to reverse the diet is not enough. They may fail if there is no adequate advice.

It is a mental health disorder, and as such requires professionals from that area. In a few occasions it is a combination of disorders. Consultation with psychologists or psychiatrists is essential to characterize the picture.